Tag Archives: blogging

Lee Montgomery: New Englanders Don’t Write Blogs (and 20 other things you never knew about the Northeast)

The community manager at Shebooks suggested that I write a blog post to promote my new e-book titled, New Englanders. She recommended, “10 ways to spot a New Englander,” or something in that vein. Being that I am a New Englander I told this woman I could never write a blog about what it was or wasn’t to be a New Englander.

New Englanders don’t write blogs.

Apparently, there are a lot of people out there who feel they can write such baloney: ten things about New England or how to spot a New Englander. All to say there are a lot wannabe New Englanders. Wannabe New Englanders are not True New Englanders. They are the faux New New Englanders. Much has been lost to faux New England. There are many imposters, many interlopers…my mother’s family were such people, from Michigan.

So let me set the record straight:

True New Englanders don’t write blogs.

Computer cat doesn't like blogs

They also don’t write promotional materials of any kind — either to promote themselves, their work, or anything or anyone else. Any New Englander knows promoting anything is nonsense, too high falutin’ tooting one’s horn. If a New Englander wanted to write promotional materials, they wouldn’t write fiction about depressed New Englanders. They would work in PR for a social media company and move to Brooklyn.

A True New Englander needs to have at least one side of the family living in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Maine for the last 400 years. (No Connecticut does not count. Too close to New York ways. They’ve been trying to wiggle their way into New England Club Status for centuries. )

A True New Englander knows everyone secretly wants to be a New Englander. Everyone but a true New Englander, in fact. (The last place a New Englander wants to be is New England.)

New Englanders don’t go to prep schools. New Englanders do not wear those fat rimmed cordoroys, khakis, or Izod shirts. A true New Englander would not caught dead in penny loafers.

Prep schools and preppies have tried time again to steal the mantle of New England chic all to no avail. They may be situated in New England and adorn the trappings of a New Englander but they are not New England.

New Englanders do not worship Dunkin Doughnuts; they have never even seen a Dunkin Doughnuts. (That’s Connecticut again.)

New Englanders do not go on family ski vacations. New Englanders don’t downhill ski; they cross country or in extreme cases snow shoe, and, then, only if they have to e.g., if they are snowed in and out of gin.

New Englanders do not wear topsiders. They wear moccasins or blue boat shoes. New Englanders don’t wear pink and green. They do not wear whale belts or Lily Pulitzers. (That’s Long Island). They do not carry whale bone purses or Nantucket baskets with whale bone clips. New England women either go without (wallet in pocket type of folk), make their own, or carry ugly black or brown leather purses their mothers bought at Jordan Marsh or Filene’s Basement in the forties and handed down.

New Englanders do not drive snowmobiles.

They drive tractors or American cars. They don’t wear bean boots either. They wear rubbers. New Englanders do carry Bean sail bags, though, have for as long as they can remember Bean came to town.

True New Englanders are not impressed by the interlopers at Harvard either. Nor those drab and boring brown-wearing Bostonians. Don’t even get a New Englander started on the Boston Brahmin or those of the Cambridge ilk.

True New Englanders do not grow weary by the streets of Boston and their rotaries laid out by wandering cows. True New Englanders wouldn’t be caught dead in Boston.

Nor in a church.

True New Englanders don’t go to church except occasionally maybe to sing. They may believe in god but they do not worship him. Like the good Transcendalists, they worship the earth.

A New Englander does not run in marathons, saving that for Boston (and Connecticut). They do not run, period. They don’t play tennis, golf or other sports with balls. They do not hunt horses. They drink to excess often, especially on Sunday when the Blue Laws make it illegal. (More fun.)

New Englanders are sailors, when they are not busy building useful things – doohickies for the garden, compost bins, painting boats.

New Englanders don’t like lobster or clam chowder, leave those for the newbie’s, baked bean lovers, and tourists. They eat trout for breakfast and a lot of turnips. They love kohlrabi and rhubarb.

They do not admire the foliage. If it’s foliage time that means it’s time to pick up leaves. And if it is time to pick up leaves, snow is surely to follow.

True Englanders secretly love Northeasters, the bigger the better, but only before and during storm. After storm they want to slit their wrists.

True New Englanders know Indian staircases, and under ground tunnels to run from being attacked by Native Americans e.g., Indians. They know about cotton battens in the crème puffs, plum pudding you slice with a thread. They know how to grow pumpkins, burn leaves without burning down the town.

True New Englanders also know the crap they teach in school about the pilgrims and the American Revolution, including Plymouth Rock, and the whack job Paul Revere, are not the whole story. Some true New Englanders were loyal to the King, and no they were not tarred and feathered because they were safely off in Canada until everyone could settle down.

New Englanders farm, fish, and garden, putter around the old homestead.

Cat screws in a lightbulb

They reshingle barns. They mend fences. Build stone walls. Only a few do manufacturing and high tech on Route 128; something other New Englanders don’t understand.

New Englanders know to make hay when the sun shines, don’t make much ado about anything, can’t get there or anywhere from here.

Truth is, it’s harder and harder to find true New Englanders in New England. After four hundred years of winters, true New Englanders worth their salt have all moved to California.

Sign buried in snow

 

Lee Montgomery is an award-winning writer, read her latest novella, New Englanders, only from Shebooks.

NewEnglanders

Elizabeth Aquino: “This drives me insane.” | Q&A

Elizabeth Aquino, author of the Shebooks Hope For a Sea Change, talks past lives and share advice with aspiring writers.

What prompted you to write Hope For a Sea Change?

I began writing this more than ten years after the birth of my daughter Sophie when I took a writing workshop at UCLA called Writing the Healing Story. I have always been a writer and had been working on some short stories before her birth, but when she was diagnosed with a terrible seizure disorder at three months, I literally stopped writing and became quickly immersed in her care and a new life. The workshop was incredible, and as I took up my pen and began to craft essays about my experiences raising a child with disabilities, my teacher and mentor told me that I had a book. And so I do!

Is there such a thing as “women’s writing?” Do you hate the term “chick lit” or think we should embrace it, like the term “gay”?

I guess I agree that there is such a thing as “women’s writing” if it pertains to women-centric themes, although I am hesitant to gender-define good writing and I really do hate the term “chick lit,” finding it demeaning. I’m irritated by the lack of attention paid to women writers in general—am aware of the statistics—and find it ironic that women buy and read books far more than men do, but I’m not sure it serves anyone to call a genre of writing “women’s literature.” Frankly, the whole delineation of genres bores me. I’m a woman, and I write. I’m a woman and I read whatever resonates with me.

Have you ever experienced sexism as a writer? If so, how?

I have written a blog for over six years, have created and participated in an amazing community through that blog of writers, parents, and artists of all persuasions, but when people (usually men!) hear about it, they always tell me, “Oh, that must be good therapy for you.” This drives me insane.

When did you first decide you were a writer?

I think I became a writer at the same time as I became a reader. As a young girl, I wrote constantly—poems, novels, short stories, even a newspaper for my neighborhood. I dreamed of one day writing a real book, and while that dream was squashed for a while, I find myself in my sixth decade of life with more creative energy than I have ever had and a renewed hope that it will finally happen.

Is there anything that you consider too personal to write about?

I will not write about my marriage except in the most general of terms. I find that far too personal.

Do you currently have a job other than writing? What’s the most interesting day job you’ve had?

As the mother of three children, one of whom is severely disabled, I have always worked as an advocate and “parent expert” in health care, particularly in the area of improved access and quality of care for children with special health care needs. Right now, I have a contract with a nonprofit foundation here in Los Angeles that provides legal services and advocates for children and youth in the foster care system. No paying work has been as interesting as raising three children—nor as difficult!

What’s an odd fact about you that not many people know?

I’m fascinated by construction sites and large machinery. I have a secret fantasy of climbing up into one of those gigantic cranes and lifting something up into the sky.

What is your favorite word right now?

Lush.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite authors are Virginia Woolf, Michael Ondaatje, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Colum McCann, Lorrie Moore, David Sedaris, Toni Morrison, and the poets W.B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Jack Gilbert, and Seamus Heaney.

Aside from writing, do you have any other secret talents?

In my former life, I was a pastry chef and can bake a pretty damn good cake and then decorate it.

Do you have a quote, mantra, or thought that you’d like to end with?

“Breathing in, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile.” Thich Nhat Hanh.

Hope for a Sea Change